It will be hard to improve a Chelsea squad that no team were able to match in the Premier League last season. The Blues were fantastic in their title triumph and despite facing criticism for not playing the most attractive football; no-one could question their efficiency.
Last season, Jose Mourinho masterminded a summer transfer window recruiting Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas from Atletico Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Costa excelled in his debut season despite being troubled by injury and could have easily finished as the division top scorer if hamstring problems had no re-occurred. Former Arsenal midfielder, Fabregas, netted three goals and registered 18 assists, playing a pivotal role in their Premier League success.
Chelsea fans are already seeing transfer activity at Stamford Bridge with Petr Cech set to secure a £11m transfer to North London rivals Arsenal in search of first-team football. With legendary striker Didier Drogba departing the club, Mourinho has identified Colombian striker Radamel Falcao as a potential replacement for the Ivorian; which after some poor Copa America performances, on top of a poor season for Manchester United has led to some questioning the potential move.
We assess who Chelsea can bring in to defend their title next season.
Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid – France
Chelsea are reportedly looking to bolster their impressive attacking front-line and have identified Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann as the man for the job. The Frenchman has enjoyed a fine season in La Liga, netting 22 league goals and has attracted the attention of top clubs from all around Europe.
Paris Saint Germain are Chelsea’s biggest rivals for Griezmann’s signature and have reportedly tabled a £28m bid for the attacker. Atletico are adamant that their star man will not be sold unless the £43m release clause in his contract is met. Without Costa, Chelsea looked lacklustre in attack and Oscar failed to sustain his impressive start to the season.
The France international is capable of operating as the main striker, the number 10 role just behind the central forward or as a winger. Rumours suggest that Oscar could be sold all together with Juventus reportedly interested and Griezmann would be the ideal replacement and a dream signing to improve Mourinho’s squad.
Asmir Begovic – Stoke – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Asmir Begovic has been targeted by Chelsea as the replacement for the outgoing Cech with Chelsea reportedly submitting an £8m bid for the Stoke keeper. Begovic has established himself as one of the safest keepers in the Premier League during his time with the Potters and Mourinho believes he is the perfect back-up to first choice keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Stoke believe that their number one keeper would rather stay at the Brittania than play second fiddle the Belgian at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea think they will able to convince the Bosnian that a move to North London is in the shot-stopper’s best interests.
Standing at 6’4” Begovic is an ideal replacement for the departing Czech Republic international but faces an almost impossible task in attempting to dislodge Courtois in between the sticks. Manchester United have also been linked with Begovic as a replacement for David De Gea who is widely expected to leave for Real Madrid. Question marks have been raised whether the 28 year old has what it takes to be the number one at United whilst he remains an ideal signing for Mourinho as the number 2 keeper.
Antonio Rudiger – Stuttgart – Germany
Reports have also suggested that Chelsea are lining Stuttgart centre-back, Antonio Rudiger, as the long-term replacement for current skipper John Terry. The former England captain was sensational at the heart of Chelsea’s defence last season and the young German centre-back has been identified as the man to fill the huge boots their skipper will leave.
Mourinho is understood to be in the market for a new defender to bolster his defensive line and Rudiger is the man he wants. The 22 year old has a £7m release clause included in his contract at Stuttgart and is extremely keen on a move to the Premier League champions. Chelsea face competition from the likes of Wolfsburg and Porto who have also been linked with a move for the former Borussia Dortmund man but the Blues are confident of securing his signature with the player ‘desperate’ for a move to the Bridge.
The defender impressed last season at Stuttgart which led to a call-up to the senior German team after representing his country at every single youth level. Rudiger is a powerful and quick defender who reads the game very well. A partnership for the future of Rudiger and Kurt Zouma could be formidable long-term option for the Blues. It is also possible that Chelsea could look to complete a deal for the German and loan him straight back to his former club. However, if his development is to continue, Chelsea taking advantage of such a low buy-out clause could prove a very shrewd decision.
Other Rumoured Transfer Targets
Douglas Costa – Shakhtar Donetsk – Brazil
Despite the Chelsea manager insisting that January signing Juan Cuadrado will not be departing the club just six months after his transfer, a return to Italy has been suggested. Chelsea could turn to Shakhtar playmaker Douglas Costa who has been linked with a ‘dream’ move to England. The Brazilian has spoken about his admiration for Mourinho. Any move for the Brazilian is likely to hinge on other deals such as Falcao and Griezmann with Liverpool also supposedly interested in the 24 year old.
Toby Alderweireld – Atletico Madrid – Belgium
Toby Alderweireld impressed for Southampton last season following his loan move from Atletico Madrid. The Belgium was ever present in the Saint’s impressive defence last season and is capable of operating at both centre-back and right-back which would no doubt interest Mourinho. There has been talk of swap-deal which would see Filipe Luis return to the Spanish club but Chelsea face stiff competition from Southampton are keen to make his loan move permanent as well as Tottenham who want to pair the 26 year old with his international team-mate Jan Vertonghen.
Alex Song – Barcelona – Cameroon
Alex Song has attracted the attention of many top clubs after a solid season during his loan move at West Ham. Manchester City and Chelsea are interested in the defensive midfielder and are also encouraged by the Cameroonian’s home-grown status due to his time with Arsenal. Barcelona are holding out for around £5m which could rule West Ham out of the race for his signature as the Hammers want the former Arsenal man for free and could only offer Song reduced terms on his £100,000 a week contract. With John Obi Mikel linked with a move away with Fenerbahce interested, Song is the ideal candidate to replace the Nigerian.
Charlie Austin – Queens Park Rangers – England
Following QPR’s relegation, their star striker Charlie Austin is set to move on to bigger and better things after smashing 18 goals for the Hoops last season. Austin would also offer Chelsea home-grown status as well as proven goal scoring ability in the absence of Costa. With Loic Remy linked with a departure, Austin would be the perfect addition to Chelsea’s attacking options. The Englishman must decide whether the lure of guaranteed first-team football offered by the likes of Newcastle is the better move for the 25 year old.